Reported by Huang Wen-Chi
The 2016 National Innovation Award for Biotechnology went to the developers of 25 innovative items of new drugs, new medical devices and new testing techniques. Prof Chang Shan-Chwen, the Dean of the Medical School of the National Taiwan University and one of the judges of the Award, praised the involvement of clinicians in most of the projects bidding for the award. The number of applicants of this Award has reached a record high this year, including a total of 142 items and 107 institutes. The biotechnology industry in Taiwan has gone from strength to strength, pitching potential products at the global market.
This biotech flame was started by K.T Lee, a late Minister of the MOEA, and the flame is finally flickering after 30 years. If the government continues adding firewood to boost the flame, the biotech industry could be the driving force behind the next wave of economic growth in Taiwan.
So, what kind of firewood does the industry need most? Firstly, the government should expand and encourage the biotech capital market by removing unnecessary red tapes and lifting restrictions on daily stock price variations so that the stock market can quickly adjust to changes and recover from major events. The government should also encourage the establishment of large biotech funds and direct the investment from insurance companies and the general public to the biotech industry.
Secondly, the government should thoroughly examine the obstacles for new drugs to enter hospitals’ formulary lists and to get NHI listing. Some of the health authority’s management measures have proved to be the greatest obstacle for new drugs. They have kept many licensed new drugs out of the domestic market. There are some cases that new drugs developed in Taiwan received lower payment prices in Taiwan than in foreign countries.
Thirdly, the government should speed up the process of signing market entry agreement with other countries and reduce unnecessarily repeated tests and studies. This will help new drug developers in Taiwan enter the international markets.
With these three kinds of firewood and the nation’s inherited traits of diligence and creativity, the biotech industry can definitely lead the economic growth in Taiwan. We have no time to lose. This generation has the responsibility to lay down the right track for the generations to come.
【2017-01-03/ Economic Daily】